Monday, November 2, 2015

On pregnancy and loss

I have written this post in my head many, many times and have thought about it even more. I sometimes have worried that writing my story would just bring back the overwhelming heartache I felt that day and the days,weeks, even months following. But I have learned that when you experience a loss, expressing your feelings and writing them down can be cathartic. And perhaps, there is a friend or someone reading this post that can benefit somehow from it. If that someone is reading this, you are not alone. Trust me on this, for I have been through this not just once, but twice.
These losses were miscarriages. I recently read miscarriage referred to as the "Voldermort of women's health issues." And it cannot be more true. Few people who experience it want to talk about it. Why? There are many reasons.. In my experience, it was heartbreaking to think about, let alone talk about. Plus, though I had made it through my first trimester, we had never announced the pregnancy. How was I supposed to bring up my miscarriage to all my friends and family who never even knew I was pregnant to begin with?

And this is me talking about my miscarriage, this is my story. In May 2012 my husband, Brandon and I were busy with preparations for moving to Spain for a masters degree program when I found out that I was pregnant. This was not my first, we already had a beautiful little boy who was a little over a year old. And all I could feel was nervous, anxious, unsure of what would happen, frustrated of the situation (imminent move overseas!) and just scared. We kept the news to ourselves, knowing all those who loved us would be a bit worried as well. We had already spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours on getting to Spain that I could just not imagine going and doing what we felt was best for our family (Brandon getting his masters degree in such a short amount of time). I saw my doctor at 6 weeks where I had an ultrasound and was able to see little babe's heart beating. I still could not believe this was happening.
Weeks passed and things seemed fine, I didn't have much of an appetite or cravings and hardly any vomiting, I thought I was lucky. Not too long after leaving our home and arriving in Ohio to visit family before our move, I started feeling terribly sick, couldn't eat anything for a couple of days. Not sure if this was the flu, or my body hinting to me that all was not well. A few days later I was back to normal. A few weeks passed and I was now at just a few days shy of 15 weeks, when I started spotting. I made some calls to nearby OB offices, all who advised not to come in unless I have heavy bleeding and/or cramps. I did not, and though I was a little reassured, I still felt like something just wasn't right. A few days past and I was still spotting a bit. Now, Liam and I were scheduled to leave for Spain in 2 weeks and my husband in 2 days. Then I started bleeding, and it was bad. My heart sank knowing that I had more than likely just lost our baby. We immediately drove straight to the hospital. There nurses tried to assure me that there was still hope as they searched and searched for my little babe's heartbeat, but I knew in my heart that they wouldn't find it. A doctor came in and performed an ultrasound and informed me that there was no blood going to my baby. I could see my baby on the screen, with arms and legs, only problem was that my baby was not moving. Another doctor came in to confirm that we had lost our baby a few weeks prior and that that my body had just held onto the baby, resulting in a "missed miscarriage." Even though this was the news I had anticipated hearing the entire drive to the hospital and the whole time the nurses couldn't find my baby's heartbeat, hearing it confirmed was terrible. They left the room to give us some time alone, leaving on the screen showing our little babe that had no heartbeat, that was gone. It felt so surreal in that hospital room knowing that the baby I had been carrying for 15 weeks was gone. This baby would not be part of our family. I would never hold this baby or sing to it or cuddle it for hours on end. For the past 4 months we had been about to be a family of 4.. and now it was just gone. They tried to reassure me that "these things happen" and that "I did nothing wrong." They sent me home and I was scheduled to come in the next morning for surgery. 
The next morning, as I laid in the freezing OR, waiting on the surgeon, a nurse brought me a few warm blankets and then came to my side, she didn't say anything either, She looked at me with such care in her eyes and took my hand and grasped it. I couldn't help but begin to cry, a mix of realization and sadness for what was happening and yet the sweet gesture brought me a little comfort. I truly feel like those who work in medicine have to just be meant for that job, and that particular nurse was clearly meant to be a nurse. 
Later in the recovery room, I was informed that I had lost a lot of blood, but they expected me to be ok. A bit later a nurse came and started to fill out my release papers. Turns out I was not ok, for hours they monitored me, trying to stabilize my heart rate and blood pressure. The whole day I was pumped full of IV fluids. After that didn't work, I was given a transfusion. Finally I could go home and hold my little boy. How glad I was that I had him that sad night. Being wheeled out of the hospital empty handed was probably the hardest part. I hadn't even thought about how hard that would be. The last time I had left a hospital (except for the day prior), I was wheeled out holding onto my precious Liam to take him home with us. This time I had nothing. 
Then the next day, as scheduled, Brandon left for Spain. I was left to mourn on my own. Most of those two weeks were spent lying awake at night, having no distraction from the thoughts that plagued my mind. The strongest thoughts were feelings of guilt. I felt guilty that I had not been excited about this precious life, and I felt guilty for not seeking help when I got sick thinking of the possibility that I miscarried due to dehydration. I don't think I will ever not wonder if I could have prevented my miscarriage. I don't think I will ever not wonder what our family would be like now, had we become a family of 4 then. 
Now, I can talk about these things without becoming an emotional mess. When I went through my miscarriage and the feelings and heartache were new, I did not want to talk about it. Not just because of the awkwardness surrounding never even announcing my pregnancy, but also, I hoped that I could just forget it all. I thought if I didn't talk about it and I could just forget it, it would be less painful. The reality was that never talking about it, did more harm than good. I felt alone in my loss. Though my husband obviously lost a baby as well, I still felt like he didn't understand what I was going through. I felt I had no one who knew what it was like to go through a loss like this. And a miscarriage isn't exactly what you bring up in everyday normal pleasant conversation, right? "Hey, how have you been!!?"..-"Oh, you know, just lost my baby that I wasn't excited about at 15 weeks and now I feel like crap.." In my head there would definitely had been awkward cricket sounds following. But as I very slowly began telling a few close friends and family members what happened, the responses I got were sincere, heartfelt reassurances of love and sympathy. And that was what I really could have used in the days and weeks following the loss of our precious baby. And though I don't have all the answers on why this happened, there are lessons I learned on my journey of loss. Human life is precious, and the gift to be able to conceive and carry a tiny, perfect human being within you is not a gift given to every woman. Appreciate it and don't take it for granted. And please, if you suffer the heartbreaking loss of a precious baby, don't rob your loved ones of supporting you by shutting down and not speaking about your loss.

Rachel is a mother to three babies, two here on earth and one angel baby.

No comments:

Post a Comment